Author

Rodney Land

Date of Award

5-2000

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Sociology

Supervisor

Jane Synge

Language

English

Abstract

A survey of graduates of the Sociology program at McMaster was designed in order to provide up to date information on the education and career paths of graduates. Specifically, this 1998 telephone survey (n=306) was used to elicit post-graduate employment and also education and training experiences, methods of seeking employment, satisfaction with current employment and employment prospects, salary levels, and views regarding the Sociology program and the extent to which it prepared students for employment. Included in the survey were those who graduated between 1992 and 1997 (the next to the most recent graduating class), thus providing information on six years of graduates. A 50 percent random sample of those whose telephone numbers and addresses were available was selected. Four-hundred and six telephone interviews were attempted, and 306 were completed. The survey covered a large portion (37%) of the 1092 who graduated from McMaster's Sociology department with B.A., M.A., and Ph.D.s between 1992 and 1997. From this survey, it is clear that McMaster's Sociology graduates are using their training in Sociology in a variety of employment contexts and that they are making use of it within a wide range of educational programs. The majority had pursued further education following graduation. Most of those who continued their education did so at the university level and, as one would expect, the Bachelor of Education (Teaching Certificate) was a very popular option. Others pursued university certificates and college diplomas. There was great variety in the educational programs that respondents entered. Four out of five of those who graduated with a B.A. in Sociology are women. About half of those who graduated with M.A.s and Ph.D.s are women. There was some evidence of gender segregation, labour market segmentation and underemployment of Sociology graduates. Women were disproportionately affected. The findings of this study support earlier research that suggests that people with degrees in the Social Sciences are faring quite well in the job market. The great majority are employed and their occupations and their income levels are in keeping with those reported in other surveys of Social Science graduates. However, given that about half are employed in the public sector and in the nonprofit sector, fluctuations in levels of government support for social programs, education, and for health services certainly affect the employment opportunities of Sociology graduates. The Sociology program is not a highly selective program and some who entered would have preferred to enter other more selective programs, for example, Social Work. This thesis provides information on the other programs favoured by Sociology students and the proportions that would have entered other programs were they able to choose their majors again. Again, patterns are in keeping with those found elsewhere in Canada. Many of these graduates are anxious about their opportunities in the labour market. Some of them question the value of additional schooling. Some of those who already have jobs must decide whether to upgrade their skills or acquire new ones. This study will help answer their questions. Suggestions regarding the design of future surveys and additional questions that might be included in future surveys are presented.

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